The Orlando Sentinel ranks the Orlando Magic as the third-best team in the NBA as part of its countdown series. Of particular note to me was the response to the ranking in the comments, essentially condemning the Sentinel's basketball crew for not being homers.
If you read Bethlehem Shoals' long-ish post about the Magic yesterday, the fact that he ranks them as the league's very best team should not surprise you, although he adds this important qualifier to the ranking:
I'll still go with the Magic on top, but that's assuming the Lakers will have problems at some point.
The Associated Press reports that the Magic believe a key word for them this season is "sacrifice," a point Rashard Lewis tried to make during a team meeting earlier this offseason. Lewis explains:
"What I tried to express to the team was that with as much talent as we have around here, the word this season will be 'sacrifice,'" said Lewis, beginning the third year of his $118 million, six-year deal.
"I might make the most money of anybody on the team, but I've sacrificed for the good of the team each of the last two years. It's not about you or how many points you can score. It's about the team winning games. I just feel like if I could go out there and sacrifice then anybody can do it. So sacrifice will be a big word for us this season."
We move from ranking teams to ranking players, as SLAM rates Magic center Dwight Howard the league's fifth-best player. The post is not for the faint of heart, however, as it contains a graphic description of a trip to the restroom.
The Painted Area updates us on 2005 Magic lottery pick Fran Vazquez, who has yet to sign with the team. The good news is that he sounds like a decent enough player:
Fran Vasquez (Magic property) is not particularly skilled on offense but shoots a great percentage getting easy looks rolling off high screens. His combo of long arms & mobility make him a effective rebounder & a terrific defensive presence (1st in blocks in Euroleague).
Bright Side of the Sun passed along the news that Phoenix Suns GM Steve Kerr made comments critical of the NBA's replacement officials. The NBA fined Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and the Orlando organization $35,000 each for similar comments Van Gundy made last week, so it'll be interesting to see if it fines Kerr and the Suns:
Kerr went on to say this, "In some ways the replacement referees were good because they didn't have the preconceived notions that some of the establish ref's do. You didn't ever get the sense that a star was going to get a call with these guys. They just kind of called what they saw. Unfortunately, they're not nearly as good because they lack the experience, they lack the expertise that the main guys do but it was really interesting to watch the last few weeks."